Background: Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men. The American Cancer Society estimated about 164,690 new cases of prostate cancer in 2018. Since opening its doors in 1932, the New Mexico VA Healthcare System (NMVAHCS) had not held a prostate cancer support group. A review of the literature suggests that older prostate cancer patients benefit from the continuous social support in face-toface support groups. In light of the American Cancer Society estimates and the predominately male population served at the NMVAHCS, of which nearly 1300 of these veterans are living with prostate cancer, the need for a support group warranted investigation.
Methods: A needs assessment was completed with 50 veterans diagnosed with prostate and receiving care in the Urology Section of the New Mexico VA Healthcare System. This assessment included a 3 question survey aimed at determining veteran awareness of the Albuquerque community prostate cancer support group, attendance at this support group and lastly if they would attend a veteran centered prostate cancer support group on the NMVAHCS campus.
Results: Of the 50 veterans surveyed, 40% were aware of the community based prostate cancer support group while 12% had actually attended a meeting. 60% of the respondents stated that they would attend a veterans-centered prostate cancer support group on the NMVAHCS campus. 50% of those who responded that they would not attend a meeting stated that they lived too far away from the main campus but would attend via a telehealth meeting at their local community based outpatient clinic (CBOC).
Conclusion: Based on the survey findings, the decision was made to launch a Veteran Center Prostate Cancer Support Group. Men Talking to Men about Prostate Cancer held its inaugural meeting June 6, 2018 and has continued to meet bi-monthly. Sessions are facilitated by the New Mexico Prostate Cancer Support Association and include a multidisciplinary presentation of issues common to the veteran prostate cancer patient as well as a physician led question and answer session.